Scary Snippets Christmas Edition Released

I’ve had a bounce in my step for awhile now what with getting some of my very short fiction out there in the world.  One of those putting-bounce-in-my-step moments was placing a short story called “Turkey Day” with the good folks at Suicide House Publishing for their holiday offering Scary Snippets: Christmas Edition.*

I received two copies of the book the other day and am looking forward to reading it.  All of the stories are very short (hence “snippets”), between 100 and 600 words.  Naturally, being a Lady of Chaos Undivided I went for excess and made sure I used all 600 words.

Reindeer is tired of being used as a book rest and thinks duck needs to take a turn.**

Monsters and mayhem, by a goodly number of authors, include such things as cannibalism (tasty presented of course), Yule Cat, Revenge of the Christmas trees, and I am pleased to report that mine wasn’t the only story with zombies.

I must confess that my zombies were an oblique feature rather than the main attraction of Turkey Day.  One possible theme for my story might be that people are just a little too hard to impress these days and it’s a damned shame.  Whatever the case, I’m one of those people (currently anyway) who usually looks for a theme after I’ve finished my work rather than when I’m writing it.

Bird thinks the Thanksgiving Day ones are the scariest for obvious reasons!

In other news, I was the dungeon master for a Dungeons & Dragons game yesterday, which went pretty well.  I haven’t DMed in many years and I was a little nervous going in, but everyone said they had fun and are looking forward to once again visiting the Enchanted Forest, so I’m pretty pleased.

Finally, I have a sorry little tale (pun not intended) about my cat catching a mouse.  That will be for next time.  I hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Christmas Bird Clip Art

*  Suicide House Publishing has since changed its name to Nocturnal Sirens Publishing.

** My mother made the little clothespin angel, which I thought was cute, and put it in this year’s Christmas box.  Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Christmas 2019: Gaming, Writing, and Twist Yo’ Wrist!

Greetings and Felicitations, Dear Readers, I hope you are doing well.  If Christmas is your thing, then have a merry one, and if not then best wishes for whatever it is you celebrate this time of year, even if it is simply making it to the end of another year.  Some years are better than others and I hope that 2019 was a good one and 2020 is even better.

I had a nice time at a Solstice celebration where there was a big fire and I got to don a robe and everything, and an equally fun Christmas with my tiny tree that I bust out for a month before banishing it back to the dungeon, along with the tiny reindeer and bird, in their green and red plastic bin.

Reindeer wants to be a ranger or barbarian.  Naturally the bird wants to play a dragonborn.*

Received some pretty nice presents this year, which touch on my three favorite hobbies:  gaming, writing, and working out.

It has been quite a few years since I’ve played roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, and I happened to mention to someone I’m getting the itch to DM once again.  The result was a Players Handbook from Jolly Old Saint Nick.  Now all I have to do is find some like-minded people in my area.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is apparently a guidebook for plotting novels.  I feel pretty confident with short stories and such, but I feel like 2020 is going to be the year where I educate myself more with structuring longer fiction.  So I’m going to read through this book and see about applying what I learn to going back and revisiting the Gabby novel I was poking away at on Wattpad.

The metal thingie is a wide-grip wrist roller.  For anyone not familiar, you attach a weight to it and roll the rope up and lower it back down.  It targets the forearms and especially the grip.  Nice and heavy duty too.  Can’t wait to take it to the gym.  With the Twist Yo’ Wrist device I’ve been using for some time now, I’ll never meet a jar of pickles I didn’t like.

I updated my About page.  I thought maybe it was time considering I haven’t touched it since about 2014.

Take care and have a great 2020.

— Ann

 

* I’m fairly certain that the tree wants to play a Druid, though I’ll have to build back up to where I’m high enough level to cast Speak with Plants to be certain!

Book Review: Stories We Tell After Midnight

“Here, the shadows keep their secrets and the moon hides from deeds cast in her glow.  In these pages, the Fae walk as human, the dead burn with their anger at the living, the creatures that live in the dark places of the wrong zip code creep out of the shadows and into the kitchen.”  — Crone Girls Press

Stories We Tell After Midnight is the debut anthology of short, horror fiction from Rachel A. Brune’s Crone Girls Press.  This book was my bedtime literary companion for a few nights and I found it an enjoyable read.  The stories varied in length from flash fiction to longer short stories.  Like pretty much all anthologies, the quality of the tales varied.  Some of the stories were excellent, some average, and a couple didn’t work for me.  Even with the stories that I thought fell flat, I did appreciate that the authors were taking chances.

This authorial taking of chances is something that I haven’t seen much of with the short fiction I’ve been reading lately, and made for an interesting change of pace.  This is probably because I have been reading a lot of fiction online.  Such work often tends to play it safe for reasons such as restrictive terms of service and risks the risk of feeling sanitized or politically correct.

Stories We Tell After Midnight is a refreshing alternative and gives us none of that.

The stories “go places” I haven’t seen lately.  Children in dangerous situations, terrors that seem familiar from recent headlines, unsavory culinary habits and sexual manipulations, to name a few.  Brune chooses work by authors who can sojourn into this dark country but do so without crossing the border into bad taste, even if in one case the author does drag his toe along that line, in my opinion.

Sometimes, Horror has to sojourn down twisted, borderland roads.

I also enjoyed how the stories took place in different eras and places.  There were tales set during the mid and late-19th Century up to the present day.*  I liked how the horrors varied between the entirely mundane to the magical/supernatural, and I appreciated the magic realism that permeated many of these evocative settings.

My favorite three stories in no particular order were:**

  • “Kitchen Spirits” by Nicholas Belardes
  • “Gobbl’uns” by Thea Rachel Brune
  • “It Has to Cool First” by Carol Gyzander

I just realized my top three picks all involved food one of sort or another!

“Kitchen Spirits” by Nicholas Berlardes introduces us to the recently widowed Pascual, who is having nightmares of his “re-animated wife” and seeing “a thing with crab-like legs” with “a corpse-colored tongue” sampling dead rats in his driveway.  Mostly, he wants to be left alone with his sorrow, microwaved refried beans and Netflix.  He also doesn’t want anyone messing with his cat, Panchito.  I can understand that, though one feels sorry for him as a man who has lost his old life and his purpose.

I enjoyed Pascual’s internal dialogue as he tries to cope with his current existence and broken heart while “visions of corpses infected his mind.”  If that wasn’t enough, throw in a pesky, teenage neighbor, who was given to “blabbing about some monster-filled dungeon he’d concocted for his stupid geek friends,” while delivering warnings about “bad mojo.”

As Pascual becomes more disturbed, and the environs around his house more sinister and seemingly unclean, one wonders if the kid might not have a point.

I enjoyed reading how Pascual ended up reacting once the full horror of the situation was revealed.  He seemed very human.  What made this a real page turner, of course, was hoping the cat didn’t take one in the neck.  You’ll have to read the story for yourself to find out what happens with Panchito.

Sure, take a big bite but watch out for your fillings!

“It Has to Cool First” is set in late-19th Century Atlantic City where two young orphans, Jeremy and his younger sister, Mary, try to obtain work.***  Any work so they might survive.  Jeremy is particularly appealing for his indefatigable willingness to strive, despite his tender years, to secure the immediate survival and possibility of a bright future for himself and Mary.

They end up at the Keuhnle Hotel at a bakery run by the sinister Herr Holdermann.

I enjoyed how Gyzander led me down the magical realism rabbit hole through addiction to a horrific outcome where the last line brings the story full circle to a satisfactory, evil conclusion, but with more questions and the possibility for alternative futures I can spin out in my head as a reader.  Horror that is more of the same?  A long and complicated Revenge?  What do the other people in the town and associated with the hotel really know about the bakery?  You get the idea.

You get extra evil monster points for taunting the kid when you know he’s hooked!

“Gobbl’uns” is a story of childhood jealousies and monsters under the bed.  Poor Charlie, on his sixth birthday, has to deal with the fact that his parents are much more focused on the needs of his younger brother than they are with the horrors that might be lurking under his bed, despite his father’s “monster repellent.”

What appealed me to most about this story was the masterful job the author did in capturing the essence of young Charlie through an adult, third-person voice.  I smiled at Charlie making a protective picket of his stuffed animals against the monsters and by the end understood (and sympathized a little) with his sibling rivalry, even while things didn’t work out quite like how the boy probably imagined or hoped they would.

Stories We Tell After Midnight was a dark, attractive read.  The plots were straight-forward, the writing crisp, and the settings varied and evocative, which makes for good bedtime reading.  I would only give this book a miss if you are highly sensitive or easily triggered, in which case I would respectfully ask why you are reading adult horror in the first place?

Congratulations to Crone Girls Place for a solid, debut offering.  As someone who enjoys a bit of horror tourism, I look forward to seeing the tormented landscapes Editor Brune takes us next.

This is an unsolicited review for which I received no compensation. All graphics used with permission of Crone Girls Press.**** 


* Would have been fun to see a story set in some sort of dark fantastic or science fiction future, though the lack of this in no way diminished my enjoyment of the anthology.

** Honorable mention to Elizabeth Donald’s “In Memoriam.”

*** It is fun when an author pulls from history, especially when they don’t tell you they are doing so.  (Several of the stories do this.)  Keuhnle’s Hotel, where Gyzander’s story is set, was built in 1875 by the father of Commodore Louis Keuhnle, who puts in an early appearance in the story.  According to Wikipedia, Keuhnle’s in Atlantic City was a “prime meeting place for some of the time’s earliest gangsters, racketeers, politicians, and unscrupulous entrepreneurs.”  Sounds to me like it was a place where people really knew how to party!

*** This I swear as a Chaos Lady and a supporting adept of the October Egregore, and upon the holy tentacles of the Dark Gods’ minions who handle such oaths as well as the ghost of Commodore Keuhnle!

As Promised, Again With WIP Poxwalker #17

As promised, I offer a couple of pictures of where work-in-progress poxwalker #17 stands since the last time I turned my proverbial painting lens on this worthy zombie.*

PW#18 waits with undead patience in the fuzzy background.

I still have a bit more work to do, though I’m getting close to the end stages now.  The purple tentacles used to be blue, but I decided they were far too pretty in a wow-that-looks-like-it-would-look-great-on-a-blue-horror pretty and not poxwalker pretty so I hit them with some purple shade.  Upon reflection I might have hit them too hard and maybe I should have used some medium and/or tried blue shade or a blue and purple mix.  I still can, but I’m undecided.  I might leave them more or less as is and just highlight them a little.

Inertia and all….

After all, they are just a couple of belly tentacles and not really worth too much thought in the scheme of things.  Are there not whole regiments of guardsmen in the world who are still painfully bereft of the Grandfather’s multifarious blessings?

What kind of maggots to go with this time?**

I still have a few decisions to make such as what kind of maggots, and what kind of pox to go with this time.  Maybe Emerald Pox.  I’ve only done that with one other poxwalker, (one of the dreaded beach boy twins) so it isn’t overdone with this mob.***

I’m probably not going to rust up the mechanical arm too much.  Maybe a few Rhinox Hide patches and the like.****  I am thinking of busting out an old brush and the bottle of AK Interactive engine oil and experimenting with that.  I tried glossy Nuln Oil for a bit of fresh oil look, but that didn’t really work for me so far.

Next time I will post some pictures of the fully completed poxwalker #17, a work in progress no longer.  I’ll know it is done by my usual tried-and-true method, which is when my fiddling seems to make things no better and maybe even worse.  That is when I know it is time to stop with many things in life, miniatures and writing both.


“Promised” should be construed to mean a non-binding echo of a glimmer of a reflection upon said Humble Narratrix’s part to maybe put up some pictures of WIP-PW#17 if and when it is convenient to do so before becoming distracted by less important things.

**  It is a very good sign when you type “maggot” in the search box for your site and a whole bunch of pages come up!

***  I haven’t forgotten about my idea of having countless hordes of poxwalkers, plaguebearers, etc. and identifying each mob with a different disease.

****  Perhaps the mechnical arm was in good working order when PW#17 was gifted with the blessings of Nurgle rather than the usual state of affairs, which of course is that the rust and falling apart look is in fact a wonderful magic that makes the mechanism in question work at least as and probably better than when it was right off the forge world assembly line.

Death Guard Symbol 125 wide

Cthulhu Pie and update on Organic Ink

My husband has been on a pie making kick lately for his vegan/plant-based weight loss Youtube Channel.  I’ve been (not surprisingly as a confirmed omnivore) enjoying the fruits of his labors.  He sent me this jewel, which though he didn’t make it he said he sure wish he had.  I’m sure most of you reading this can see why and I’m sure glad he sent me this picture.  It’s Cthulhuicious:)

“In his pie at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu dreams for whipped cream.”

I had more than I wanted to share, but as it turns out I burned most of my time today working on my Wattpad writing and composing a little promotional doggerel to put in a section of the chapbook I’ve spent most of October and some of November working on:  Thirty-One Days of Darkness with the idea of having one offering for each day of October.

Someone suggested that I ought to shoehorn in a small advertisement for Organic Ink Volume Two so I did.  Actually I forgot but then was reminded when I was reading someone’s poetry collection in Wattpad and ran across an advertisement for their print chapbook.

So I typed up the usual sort of promotional stuff about pre-ordering it on Amazon, the release date being December 30th and so on, but thought that was kind of boring.  I kicked around a few ideas and then settled upon beginning with the lines:

I am one of the authors featured in this anthology

it’s far more interesting than a text on gnathology.

and goes from there for another nine or ten lines.  If you’re interested you can read the rest of it in my aptly titled, Organic Ink: Shameless Self Promotion, which I’ve sandwiched between some micro fiction concerning a superheroine’s first night alone on the job and a haiku involving tentacle fingers.

Click image for Amazon’s pre-order page for the Kindle version.

Finally, I did a little more work on poor, long-suffering poxwalker #17.  Alas, I don’t have time to take and post any pictures of my worthy zombie, but that will give me something for next time, hopefully before the weekend.  All I will say is that need to redo its violet belly tentacles because they came out too pretty by half.  Slaanesh will be making my poor poxwalker into an honorary daemonette if I’m not careful.  Oh, the pain, the pain!

Nurgle Blood Bowl Icon 125

Duck & Cover! — The Regimental Standard

I have to say, this brings back some fond memories over the years of artificially doing weird things to mitigate the effects of artillery in various games, not just 40K. I remember as a child being dragooned into playing micro armor and various Avalon Hill games with my family like Panzer Blitz and Panzer Leader, where if I remember correctly, the rule was to divide the strength of an artillery barrage by the number of targets in a hex.* So one would stack a bunch of trucks or some worthless unit with the tanks or whatever it was you were trying to protect.

Don’t get me started about 40K with all of the variations on wound allocation that I’ve seen where commanders and special weapons people become extremely brave or cowardly depending on how reality works.  Truth to tell, I had great fun making believe my space marine sergeant was the second coming of Chuck Norris in Space or tossing tactical marines in front of him like there was no tomorrow.  “Look out, Sir!”

Good times!

Greetings, Guardsmen! In your next war zone, you will come face-to-face with enemy artillery. So cowardly are our foes that they prefer to squat behind their lines, bombarding you from afar instead of engaging in good, honourable pitched combat. Thankfully, having had their supply lines cut, our foes have a limited number of shells, and […]

via Duck & Cover! — The Regimental Standard


 

* I say “dragooned” but I really had a lot of fun.  Makes me wish I had a young daughter who I could dragoon into playing Memoir ’44 or introduce to the wonders of Dungeons & Dragons.

Poxwalker-in-progress and more Wattpad writing

So I spiral out the long, sad task of painting my mob of twenty poxwalkers into late 2019.  I would say, “I’ll finish the lot before 2020!” but we all know that probably has as much truth in it as a short, sharp fit of sneezing meaning nothing but continued perfect health after putting in an eight hour shift driving around a bus full of sick people.*

Here we have Ole #17, who is one of my current works-in-progress.  I gave this poxwalker some attention this past weekend, sketching out the base colors on its belt and loin cloth as well as beginning a little experiment with purple tentacles.  I also put some paint on the Death Guard symbol.  Still a lot more work to go, as you can see, but it’s coming along.

Unfinished but only semi-forgotten!

So far as my Wattpad adventures go, here is what’s been going on there for me lately:

  • I’ve been sketching out the next section for the Gabby novel.  I’ll certainly post here when it goes live.
  • Another user, Microbytes, who puts out little anthologies of collected work on Wattpad, used a drabble I wrote in August, called “Survive to Swim” in their Micro-August Anthology.**
  • Microbytes struck again, this time notifying me that they are doing 30 days of writing prompts called “30 Days of Spooky Tales.”  I came to the party a bit late, but I am going to make an attempt to complete all 30 prompts and make a little Wattpad collection/book/whatever out of them.  Right now I am up to three done and collected under the dubious work-in-progress name of “Thirty Days of Darkness.”

For next time I am hoping for more progress on the aforementioned Ole Number Seventeen, and I might play around a bit with some Plaguebearer Flesh contrast paint I picked up last week.  I can always tell I haven’t been to the game store in a long time when I see a new staff member and she gives me the Welcome to the Store New Customer Speech!

Also plan to work on more of the Spooky Tales prompts and of course Gabby.  Hope everyone who managed to read this far has a good week.  May you make good progress on your varied projects, both mundane and multifarious!


* I was going to say “we all know that would probably be a lie” but I thought it best (for my own continued good relations with the Grandfather if for no other reason) to stick to a Nurgle-based (and rather familiar situation, to your Humble Bus-Driving Narratrix) rather than a Tzeentch-based figure of speech.

** A “drabble” is apparently a 100 word short story.  I didn’t know this until I stumbled upon this tidbit in Wattpad.  I found some interesting information on the subject over on Wikipedia.